Trees and Ecosystems

(This was written in 20 minutes, please forgive mistakes).

Nature is an interesting thing. As humans, we’ve been studying and using and talking about nature since practically our beginning, but we are not separate of nature. We don’t create nature, yet we sometimes act as if we do.

In Norse Mythology, the Tree of Life is the center of the universe and connects the Nine World. While I was in Finland, I saw it everywhere I went, and it’s definitely an interesting idea. Each branch is a different world, a different story. Climbing them takes you to unknown places and new adventures. Trees are arguably some of the older living creatures we have on our planet and they’ve seen a lot through the years. War, peace, creation, life, death: trees have seen it all, but in the 21st Century we think of trees differently from how we have in our past.

One of my biggest pet-peeves is when people forget that humans are animals to, and we really only exist through a series of miraculous evolutions. We share 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and yet we think of ourselves as incredibly distinctive from the rest of the world. And yes, we certainly have capacities that allow us to do things that other creatures can’t do, but if we forget that we too are simply animals on a ball spinning in space, what else do we forget about our world?

In The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the main characters are amazed to realize that mice, in fact, have been running the Earth in order to find The Question (to which the answer is 42). There was this idea all along that humans were the ones in control of the Earth and we were the ones figuring out how everything else on it worked, but in fact we were just one large computer working to find The Question for the mice. It’s surprising, of course, for reader and character alike to consider the idea that humans might not be in charge of everything around themselves, and might not know as many answers as we think we know.

Grant Lichtman talks about Adrian Bejan in his book #EdJourney. Bejan is the creator of the constructal law, which states, “For a finite flow system to persist in time  (to live), its configuration must evolve in such a way that provides easier access to the currents that flow through it.” He goes on to explain that this is shown in how nature has evolved to create the best way for water to flow through a tree, rivers through a country, and blood through the body. The flow of knowledge has become a controversial topic as of late, especially when it comes to education. Is the best way to teach people from teacher to student? As a group? Google? A textbook? And what is the best way for that knowledge to be spread? Does the whole group Google the same topic? Does one person Google a question and tell everyone else the answer?

I’m running out of time even as more thoughts run around in my head, but I do have one final question: How do we explore more branches of our personal life trees?

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